Back in the day, I read the Early Retirement Extreme book, which mostly is just a testament of how smart the author thinks he is. I suppose there are some tips in there, too.
Aside: the favorite part of the book was when the guy hinted for about 200 pages on how good his investing acumen was and then he just glossed over it by saying “investing is so easy for me I don’t even have to explain it.” OH BABY THAT’S GOOD BULLSHITTIN’.
Anyhoo, one of the suggestions from that book was to work on limiting yourself the basic necessities we’ve all decided are needed. For instance, you should turn your heat way down and then sleep in a tent in the living room. The tent keeps heat in, see, which frees you from heating the rest of the house you don’t use.
I swear this was an actual suggestion! Made with a straight face and everything!
Another suggestion was the one we’re going to focus on today. Everyone should take cold showers. Not just for the savings, though. But mostly so they can push their bodies and prove they’re no match for the MAN who’s constantly trying to keep us down. And too warm.
Yes, really. We’re going to be talking about cold showers. And not the kind I have to take after a Taylor Swift music video, either.
The FIRE crowd strikes again
Look, I’d love to stop ragging on the FIRE crowd. I really would. And in their defense, most of them are perfectly nice people who would laugh in your face if you ever suggested they start taking cold showers to save money. But there’s a persistent small minority that insist on doing this kind of dumb stuff to retire 14 minutes earlier.
(Italics man is telling me it would be a bad idea to show the exact tweet that motivated this. Jerk.)
One of the big knocks against the FIRE crowd is when they start making huge sacrifices in order to achieve this dream The Early Retirement Extreme guy and his sleeping in a tent is just one example. A certain facial hair blogger rides his bike everywhere all while mocking people who drive. Then he goes and buys an electric car, apparently without irony. Cold showers are another.
Then, one member of the group gets their story picked up on a major media outlet. The commenters on that piece focus on whatever outrageous thing is being done to save money. This is by design, of course, and everyone’s in on it. Then they retreat to their own blogs and complain about how the haters “don’t get it” and are “jealous.”
Let me set the record straight. You don’t have to take cold showers to retire early. Why? Because they don’t matter.
The number one thing you can do to make all of your financial dreams come true is earn more money. Increasing your top line is, in theory anyway, limitless. Most of us don’t want to work 16 hours a day, so we find the highest paying job we can and turn to passive income to make us money while we sleep.
Next, you need to cut expenses. You might move to a small community like we did. Or you can live in a place much smaller than average. Moving close enough to work to walk will usually end up saving you a bunch of money, too. And for a lot of people (myself included), renting likely ends up cheaper than buying. Combine a bunch of these big picture things and you end up saving a lot of money. Potentially a thousand dollars a month. Or even more.
Meanwhile, how much is taking a cold shower going to save you? We’re talking about $10 a month, tops.
I can’t believe I’m saying this, but let’s think about showers for a second here. Is it really the hot water that costs the money? Or is it taking a 10 minute shower because the water feels good? If it’s the latter, good news! I have a solution that doesn’t involve freezing your balls off to save literally a few bucks.
God let’s wrap this thing up
The important lesson here is you only have to sacrifice a certain amount to make your financial dreams a reality. If you’re really considering taking cold showers to save $100 a year, find a way to earn $200 more instead. You’ll be happier in the long run.